Long Division

I didn’t gain the clichéd Freshman 10 during my first year in college, I gained the Newlywed 15.

Carl and I spent our first two years of marriage in Minnesota as I attending physical therapy school. Carl was a medical technologist at the time and we envisioned endless employment opportunities when we traveled to the land of the Mayo Clinic. However we hadn’t anticipated the level of specificity of the medical community. It took Carl nearly a year to obtain full-time employment.

Godfather Pizza entered our story. Carl became a manager until finding part-time work in a virology laboratory. I attended 8 hours of classes, established library residency and spent evenings leaning over cadavers while Carl worked the late shift. We deemed our apartment the wedding cake. From living room, kitchen, bedroom to bathroom, each layer was smaller than the one preceding. Upon returning home from class and studying, I would often find a slightly warm cast iron skillet of Hamburger Helper atop our itty bitty stove. We seemed to always miss laying eyes on one another. Our days ended during the wee hours of the next day each smelling of formaldehyde and tomato sauce. We shared a Godfather pizza at the close of exhausting days and Carl always insisted we each eat half. We were equal partners in this ships passing life.

The dearest and generous of gestures helped pad my figure.

I wanted to decorate our apartment and pour over cookbooks. Carl wanted to do the work he loved and take his new wife out to a dinner using utensils.

I wanted to snuggle on the couch and be dreamy and I am sure Carl wondered if moving away from familiarity and family was foolish.

For two movie buffs, our first two years of marriage didn’t resemble any romantic comedy we had ever seen.

+++++

We moved to Portland, Oregon exactly 2 years from when we arrived in Rochester, Minnesota. During our final months, we experienced a record snowfall of 12 inches on the last day of April and on July 31st, we attended a wedding of a classmate in St. Cloud and were greeted with golf ball sized hail. It was time to leave!

After a few years we were able to buy a house. Not everyone in this life will own a home.
Not everyone will live in a home 26 years. I think we are an oddity. We are grateful. There are aspects of this house we would have loved to change but our children never wanted to leave this house. This house has been a persistent teacher. Five people and one shower, that will teach and provide endless lessons in patience. We have grown deep roots in our neighborhood.

One of the first summers we spent in this house, we would have conversations with neighbors. As we were at the beginning stages of learning to manage a home and yard, I would frequently ask neighbors with yards I admired tips to keeping weeds out of their flower beds. Without fail, the neighbor would pause, chuckle and not answer the question.

It was seriously annoying.

I wanted to know the secret but no one would offer the hidden knowledge.

+++++

Several years ago, I was asked to be one of a few speakers during the Mother’s Day service at church. I don’t particular enjoy public speaking. But after a little chat with God and telling him I hate feeling nervous, He countered my argument with asking if I could endure 5 minutes of jitters for Him?

I spoke about the 5 different colored and sized wooden ducks adorning our mantle at the time. A created visual reminder of my deepest desire for my ducks to be all in a row but the reality of life rarely allowing this scenario. I spoke of dreams deferred and the importance of being present in our lives even when, especially when, the arrows of trials land like a bullseye on your back.

I witnessed nods and exhales during those five minutes. I lived by those words.

Until I wanted the duck line formation reinstated.

+++++

 A few weeks ago, I saw couples walking by our house and pausing to scan the flower beds.

When the coast was clear, I walked down our front steps and looked for myself.

Disclaimer or reality check needed, our yard will never be featured in Better Homes and Garden.

Our yard has never seemed to get its act together at the same time, maybe it’s the owners.
Perhaps this explains the walkers staring in wonder.
Usually squirrels dig up tulip bulbs, the camelias start to bloom earlier than usual and bare spots abound where flowers never returned.

But this year, the tulips and daffodils are tall and proud before opening, the grape hyacinth planted nearly 25 years ago has leapt over or under brick in bunches, the daphne is waking up. The wall flowers never stopped putting out orange flowers despite snow and ice and as I round a corner shoots of lily of the valley are emerging.

It has taken over 25 years for this garden to grow and bloom in season.

However, the flower bed on the other side of the steps is a different story. It’s anemic. The tulips look bedraggled and the daffodils spindly. Similar flowers and grasses flourishing to the south are sparse in the north bed. Our maple tree, planted the year after we moved in, has made a part sun and shade north bed . The butterfly bush with deep and expansive roots is a playground and feeding stop for birds and appears to dominate the terrain.

+++++

In my 54th year, I know and admit:

I have wanted my life to resemble my own imagining and visions.

I have believed the sum of my days would be two perfect halves.

I thought the long division of my life would never yield a remainder.

My days will be composed of inclement weather in  seasons not of my choosing.

Weeds grow quickly and silently and must be pulled. There is not a lofty weed removal secret other than consistently doing the work.

For ducks to remain in a static row, someone or something must hold them in place. I am not this powerful or that someone. It takes strength to admit weakness and let go.

I have cycled in and out of times of wilderness most of my life. Wilderness is not an uncommon place to inhabit.

My yard has created a visual of my favorite wilderness definition.

 a part of a garden devoted to wild growth

My garden reminds me of the temptation to focus on barren places and block the view of the ground flourishing with growth and beauty. I am encouraged by the years preceding this vision when every glimpse seemed fruitless, empty and my thoughts were laced with the whisper of when? The whispered response beckoned me to risk waiting more than 5 minutes.

I thought God was pausing and chuckling at my expense.

Now I think He paused, considered His child, handiwork, masterpiece, then chuckled.

He chuckled because He could see completion, the hidden work I could never cook or dream up in my itty bitty kitchen of a mind. He knew the terrain of my life would one day make people stop and admire the view.

+++++

Dearests, if your life is filled with weeds and barrenness. If your life appears foreign in contrast to the dream reel in your head, I am sorry for the rocky and hard patches. A few people passed my dwelling place and allowed me to gaze in wonder at spring arriving in a small section of my chosen soil.

May these words help you see beauty in your life from a fresh vantage point.

bowls of worry

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All our fret and worry is caused by calculating without God.

~Oswald Chambers

Once upon a time I spotted rows of bright green happy bowls.

I stalked them for months at a neighborhood store.

They weren’t outrageously expensive but enough that I felt they were a bit

of a splurge when I had other bowls sitting on shelves at home.

But one day, I took a stroll through this store and happened to see

the remaining bowls in the marked down bin.

As quickly as I could stack them in my mini cart, I set them on a

conveyor belt and escorted them to their new home.

I had visions of using them to hold toppings for sundaes or

even taco salad.

I had the bowls’ purposes all lined up.

Quite awhile after their arrival,

I saw someone eating cereal from one of my lovely bowls.

Another time I happened to see a flash of green pass me from the

picnic table where I sat, moving quickly across the CONCRETE patio heading

towards the deck.

I cringed because you know, my beloved bowl could be broken.

As silly as this sounds, it is even more amusing that I might have casually

launched a few comments airborne hoping they would land at just the right

angle to get my point across.

Yes, maybe I had all the subtlety of a Nerf Super Soaker.

I mean using the bowls for what they aren’t intended for is one thing

but taking them from the safe confines of indoors is clearly another matter.

At any given moment, there can be any number of balls coursing through

the air.

Face it, my backyard is quite dangerous!

Around the same time as I began to realize the

extent of my bowl madness,

I stumbled across the Oswald Chambers quote.

Alright I will be honest, I read it immediately after

I averted my eyes from the bowl and the concrete pairing.

His words helped me understand how

deeply I had wondered from shallow waters to the

deep end of worry.

Bowls weren’t the only objects of my worry.

The list was long, wide and covered my family,

loved ones, money plus any number of what if’s.

Somehow I had begun to believe there was never enough

and no one capable of providing for whatever was lacking.

Any broken bowl would tip the scale beyond recovery.

*****

Well once upon a time on another day,

let’s call it last Saturday,

our neighborhood had a block party.

We planned the event with 3 other families.

Perhaps because of the heat, instead of sprawling down our street, we ended up

remaining planted in our yard.

There had been days of worrying all about the enough’s.

Would there be enough food?

Enough ice?

Enough shade?

Enough people?

Guess what?

There was plenty.

Plenty of people, conversation,

food, drinks and sun.

At one point, I noticed a ring of people in chairs laughing at someone’s joke I suppose.

I let my eyes wander and looked beyond the fabric chair backs.

A girl was sitting on the grass picking and feasting on blueberries and

then I watched her sister pluck a daisy and

thread it through her hair.

A smile formed on my face as witnessing these small acts

displayed the girls had felt welcomed.

I want to live my days with the abiding promise that I have a Provider.

One who takes a careful account of all my needs and meets them.

What if I lived with arms open of invitation and not scorn

when someone touched my stuff?

Dare I feast on blueberries and pluck flowers with no concern

that I have depleted the source?

Bowls are meant to be filled and emptied.

Flowers and berries are meant to be picked.

Each day I awaken empty,

needing to be filled

for the sole purpose of being depleted over

the course of each ticking second.

Carl and I will celebrate 28 years of marriage this week.
(Carl took vows unaware he was marrying a bowl worrier.)
Whew!

One of my favorite wedding gifts was a square bowl.

Yep, I have a thing about bowls.

We weren’t able to take many gifts with us when we left

for Minnesota days after we married.

I was so anxious to use this bowl once we returned.

This bowl has been lovingly used almost daily.

Currently it holds mounds of grapes.

Except for a small chip, this bowl has never broken.

Imagine that!

I am so glad I didn’t hoard this gift but liberally used and

enjoyed it.

Whether it is a material item or a loved one,

release your hold.

Lift your bowls and offer

them to be filled.

We might be pleasantly

surprised by the contents of the filling.

Note: I am confident that spider had vacated the blossom
before it was plucked by that sweet little gal 🙂

 

dumpster diving

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relinquish (verb):

to give up (something)
to give (something, 
such as power, control, or possession)
to another person or group

***

Just to be clear, this post is for me.

I have tried to write this post for a couple of weeks but each time

I attempt, I am hit squarely between the eyes with the

subject matter again.

Relinquish is my word for 2014.

At the moment, there is constant pounding of diligent roofers

displaying their handiwork on our outdated house covering.

I stepped out to give our dog her necessary outdoor time and missed

the plumber.

( I don’t use this space to rant but I questioned why it was fine for Carl
to wait 2 hours this morning for him but he couldn’t wait 5 minutes for me?)

End of rant!

We have been anxiously awaiting taking showers again especially during

another heat wave.

An hour before, the Fed Ex man delivered a replacement for

my car’s side mirror which was anonymously smashed on Sunday.

There is a dumpster in front of our house to carry away all the debris

from this roofing project.

We have been told that there is not to be any other garbage left in the dumpster

or we might be fined.

We may or may not have chased down a man who waited until our backs were turned

to launch his doggy deposit bag in among the shingles 😉

Today I want to load up that dumpster with each thought and bad attitude

wedged in my heart, mind and mouth.

I want it driven far enough away that I am never troubled again by

my junk.

But the thing is, I do have a place to go and unload all my garbage.

A place where it doesn’t matter what category of rubbish, I won’t pay a fine

because someone has already paid the most costly price.

I can toss all my terse words and thoughts right at the foot of the Cross.

I can admit once again how little control I possess over my days.

I can express that this reality makes me cross.

The only way to relinquish is to give up my desire to control

and give away the control to someone else.

Up up and away!

When I am tired, hot and overwhelmed, relinquishing

even an inch seems impossible and not one

part  fair.

Today, the plumber is the boss of me and my time.

I have allowed him to make me feel like I am a hostage

when my unwillingness to bend my agenda hides

the key from unlocking peace in my life.

I can either kick and scream about this fact or

I can submit to the obvious.

Some days I will need to wait.

Simply typing these sentences helps me to relax

and breath out.

I wonder if relinquishment is a kissing cousin of rest.

We surrender to our need to rest.

We give up our busyness and cease doing.

Relinquishment is letting our heart, mind

and soul be at rest on behalf of someone or

something else.

Well, the plumber is here.

He is all sweaty and red in the face and I

feel shards of my craziness being launched

to the place where garbage can land and

never be seen or mentioned again.

Grace and thankfulness take up residence

where control had waged domination.

Oh how I am desiring for relinquishment

and rest to reign!